As promised, Sushene is here to guest blog about how to be organized. Read and be amazed. This is part I of two-part series during which Sushene will inevitably change our (my) lives (life.)
Sushene, here. Not Rachel. I repeat, Not Rachel.
Rachel is someone that I adore. She’s so “free” and down-to-earth (and no, that’s not a nicety for ‘hippie who doesn’t shave’). Now, Rachel and I work together. We’re very different in some ways. For example, I love material items – shoes, handbags (especially the leather kind), and spend more money on these items than I should; but we are also similar in one very important way – we are real. No bull people, no bull.
You may wonder, how did Rachel come across someone to guest spot on her blog. She needs help with organization, and she openly admits this. Well, I sit in a high traffic location at our office, so Rachel couldn’t help but notice the many lists I maintain: my daily planner, my notebook that is sectioned off by topic with ridiculously long pages of meeting notes, my bulletin board of useful information… oh, and my anal retentive personality. She knew, somehow, that I was her girl when it came to organization tips. So here I am, gloriously embellishing in my new found heroism. My first guest spot blog. I’m not gonna lie. I’m excited. Very excited. It’s like baby-sitting someone else’s kids for an hour. They’re so cute and you almost wish you had one, but then they start to cry and make inhuman noises. Then mommy shows up! Mommy saves the day! You can go back to your normal, kid-free life. That’s how I feel about this blog. No offense.
Oh, one last VERY important item of note. I am not a writer. I am not good with punctuation, I overuse and misuse it. Prepare yourself.
Blog guest spot entry… begin.
Organizing Your Life, Part I
Well, I have to admit that I come by my personal organization and general OCD traits honestly. I was born with them. I can’t help it. No matter how carefree I try to be, those little reminders and nagging thoughts never quiet leave my head:
“What will I spend this Saturday doing? I have to plan now!”
“Will I have enough time to go to the grocery store, Cook dinner, AND work on my recipe project tonight?”
“We only have 7 rolls of toilet paper left. I must remember to place a drugstore.com order ASAP.”
“O.M.G.! I forgot to make the bed this morning! My evening ritual of getting into a wrinkle-free bed is ruined.”
“I must remember to create a cost spreadsheet for our upcoming trip to Puerto Rico, lest we not budget properly.”
I am well aware that many of these thoughts are scary to you, but I thought it only appropriate to give you a glimpse into my brain before we move on.
Here it goes. My tips to organizing your life, Part I.
1. Password file. Everyone should have one. If you’re like me and spend much of their life on the Internet, you have a million and one passwords – some the same, some different, some random variations. How do you keep track? I have an Excel file where I list what the site is, my username and my password, as well as any other relevant info like account number, security question/answer, etc. Now you might be thinking to yourself “Isn’t it dangerous to have all of your personal info in one place?” Well, yes it can be. But you can password protect your spreadsheet! There’s some irony for you. When in Excel, go to Tools and then Protection and set up a password for the worksheet, but make sure it’s one you won’t forget! I keep a copy of this spreadsheet at work and at home.
2. Calendar alerts. I put all of my meetings and reminders into iCal. If you don’t have iCal, most calendar applications have some sort of reminder functionality. I generally set all of my alerts to go off 15 minutes prior to the meeting or event. I don’t use the alerts just for meetings. I use them for to-do’s that are too far in the future to remember but are time specific. For example, I will set up a monthly iCal alert to remind me to hand out Transit Chek cards on the last day of the month to employees. If I didn’t have this alert, my coworkers wouldn’t get their cards, and they’d all be pissed at me. There’s just too much to remember. My biggest pet peeve = late attendees for meetings. Calendar alerts are your friend. Use them.
3. To-do lists. These are my saviour. I have numerous lists. Let me explain. I keep one aggregate list of all things that need to be done, from the quickest tasks to the very large, time consuming ones. It’s usually at least two pages long, and I continually add to it and rewrite it. This is the “master list”, if you will. If I lost this list, I would be lost. Seriously. Then I have my daily to-do list. Each day, I have a list of what I’d like to accomplish. It’s usually aggressive and I rarely complete everything I had allotted for myself. I typically will put together tomorrow’s daily to-do list the night before as my last task before I head home. Lastly, I have a binder/notebook that contains a weekly schedule in the front of it. Here, I rewrite all of my meetings, so that I have a place of reference in front of me when I’m not at my desk. The beauty of these checklists is that it not only keeps me organized but it makes me feel accomplished. When I see my master list shrink from 2 pages to less than one, I know I had a good week. I check off my daily to-do list and my binder weekly schedule each time I complete an item (or put an X next to it if I didn’t get to the meeting, etc.) As a little side note: if you don’t like having your schedule in more than one place, you can usually print out your online calendar each day/week – I know iCal has a lot of options with printing your calendar.
4. Contacts. I am very diligent about contact information. After I’ve accumulated a stack of cards from an event, I enter them into my address book the following morning. Even if it’s one card, I just enter it right away. I don’t like keeping hard copies of papers unless I have to, so all business cards go in the trash. Sorry to those of you who have wonderfully designed biz cards, but I just don’t have any need for them. If you have an iPhone, like me, your life is even more organized and simple because your can automatically sync your calendar and contacts each time you connect your iPhone to your computer. I also keep every one of my coworker’s email, cell phone and address in my address book. It is mostly for emergencies, but I’ve found it useful several times (mostly when our happy hour destination changes on the fly and we need to spread the word quickly).
5. Last item of note before I end this diatribe of a blog entry… just do it. I’m not trying to mimic Nike here. But seriously, just do it. The more you say “I’ll do it later” the more the chance that you’ll forget and it’ll never get done. When you get a new business card just enter it into your address book and throw the card away. The second you set up a new user account online, add it to your Password File. The second you are assigned a new task, add it to your Master List. Just. Do. It.
Well, folks, I hope you find this useful. If you don’t, you probably just think I’m crazy. And I can live with that. Because it’s probably just a front for your deep-seeded jealously of my anally organized life. See our Mental Health Guide to prove that you’re just jealous…
Over and out.